Utensils, tool kits and gift ideas, get the low down on the essential accessory items to buy (and the ones to avoid) in this section.
Barbecue cooking utensils and tool kits of utensils can vary enormously in terms of size and quantity of the implements. Many come with just three simple BBQ tools and if you're just starting out then this isn't a bad option at all.
The advantage of buying utensils tool kits is that they come in nice neat bags or boxes which is good if you’re buying as a gift or indeed just want to keep things neat and tidy.
The classic tool kits come in a three pack of tongs, fork and spatula and my first TIP when buying is check the length – if they’re too short you’ll burn your hands, I work on 12 inches being the minimum.
TIP 2 - If you need them to be dishwasher safe, remember to check because many of the wooden handled ones aren’t.
you're buying a gift for the avid griller you might be tempted to buy a complete kit...but I wouldn't. Out of say a 20 piece kit you might get 6 pieces that you use regularly and the rest will either wear out of just not be up to the job.
For a bit more information on the basic utensils and what makes a good tool:-
Tongs are great for turning any food on the grill can be split into two types, what I call the grip tongs and what I call the scissor tongs. The advantage of the grip tongs is that they normally have a serrated surface to help grip the food and I have to say, they work so the chances of dropping anything either when turning or transferring to a plate are pretty much non existent. There are however a couple of cons to serrated grip tongs
I prefer to use the scissor style (above) despite them being less "grippy" and that's because they give me the flexibility to work with large hunks of meat and my food stays moist.
What can I say about this other than it's great for flipping burgers! They are also extremely useful for turning fillets of fish so that they don't break up.
Do not use your spatula to press burgers or steaks down onto the grill grates. All this does is squeeze out the juices and dry out your meat before it is cooked.
In my book probably the least useful of all the barbecue cooking utensils if used in isolation. I tend to use the fork more a stabilising tool when moving a large hunk of meat with the tongs.
Anytime you use a fork to stab into meat you are inevitably going to puncture the flesh so given what I said in the tongs section you can understand why I tend not to use the fork very much.
Having described the difficulty of moving heavy hunks of meat using traditional utensils, the other option is to use meat claws. Not for use on the grill because you'll burn your hands but ideal for the smoker at the end of the cookout. Generally meat claws aren't included in utensils tool kits so you'll need to buy them separately.
I've read many reviews about what is a very simple barbecue accessory and everyone raves about how much easier it is and less time consuming to pull pork using meat claws. For example, 40lbs of pork butt pulled in 20 minutes...hmm. Personally I use insulated rubber gloves and just get in there with my hands.
Not much to say here other than the mops with silicon rubber bristles are so much easier to clean and they pick up gallons of liquid. They are dishwasher safe so infinitely superior to any fibre mop brush.
Look for an angled one too, you'll be amazed at how much easier it makes getting to the meat at the back of the smoker.
Note: If you are mopping with a sauce that you are also going to serve with the cooked meat, make sure your decant off the sauce to be served and put it to one side before you start using the rest as a mop. That way there's no chance of cross contamination with raw meat.
I strongly recommend having some barbecue cleaning tools in your toolkit. If your cooking grate is greasy when you start to cook you'll just put oily marks on your meat and taint the flavour of your food.
Inevitably fat deposits form on the cooking grate as the barbecue cools down and if not cleaned off these deposits form a greater surface area for more fat deposits on the next cook out and more importantly a good feeding ground for bacteria and insects.
Clean your grill after every cookout because
(like cleaning anything) if it’s done regularly it’s actually not that
big a chore. There isn't a "best practice", I use a wire brush while the grill grates are still hot and then put them in the dishwasher (you can do this if you have stainless steel grill grates) or alternatively use warm soapy water and a nylon scourer.
can get combination barbecue cleaning tools that have a wire brush pad,
a scraper attached to it like a snow plough (pictured below) and a
second nylon abrasive pad. They look the part but I hate them because the scraper is so wide it’s not easy to work with
and the nylon pad breaks away very quickly so you have to replace the
whole tool or use loose wire wool.
In summary just avoid any item described a good for cleaning the grill grates, nothing has yet superseded the wire brush.